Sunday, April 21, 2024

Out and About

The other day, I was feeling a sense of uneasiness and restlessness. That's what happens when you contemplate the meaning of life and your place in it. Nothing bad is happening here. In fact, life is good, but a wandering, anxious mind can forget that sometimes. We didn't have anything on the schedule except chores, so I told Ward I needed a change of pace and that we should go exploring. After a bit of a discussion about weather and traffic, we chose to go to a nearby town we had never been to, just to see what it was about. 

We set out on a cloudy day and drove back roads through the rolling countryside of farms and trees. The roadsides were filled with white dogwoods and pink redbuds in bloom. And beneath them, we saw patches of bright yellow bittercress. The variety and brightness of the landscape brightened my mood, even though the sun stayed stubbornly behind the clouds.

The street corners in the first town were flanked with these heavy iron bells. 

We stopped in the first town we came to, even though it was not our destination. We drove around a bit and then parked and took a walk through town. The town was small, and many houses looked to be of the Civil War era or older. Several showed decades of neglect, but we found them interesting. The wind kicked up, and I was cold, so we returned to the car. Ward noticed a town park on the map, so that was our next destination.

The park consisted of ballfields, a tennis court, and a path winding around a spent cornfield. After amusingly watching a school group playing on the ballfield, we set out on another walk, hoping the wind had died down. Our path was mowed through grass and weeds around the cornfield. The other side of the path had a small swath of trees next to a road. And when I say weeds, what I really meant this day was wildflowers. Once again, bright yellow and white blooms distracted me from my busy thoughts.

Following the walk, we drove on to our destination of the day. This town had many of the same elements as the last one we left but seemed a little larger and better off. My stomach was rumbling, so every diner we passed on Main Street seemed like a good place to stop for lunch. We chose the one we could park right in front of and wandered in. After listening to the locals' conversations while eating, we headed out to take a walk around town. However, the clouds had another idea. Large raindrops were falling and coming faster and faster. It seemed like a good time to head home.

We arrived home, happy with our outing, and began some of the morning's neglected chores.

I have been reflecting on our little jaunt. It didn't look great on paper. We didn't go far. We didn't see fancy architecture, houses, or museums. We didn't hike beautiful paths through the woods. But it was an enjoyable excursion all the same, and it reminded me that everywhere has something to offer if you just take the time to look for it.

Here are more pictures from our outing.

Honeysuckle


Garlic mustard


Bittercress


Dandelions


Buttercups


Fleabane daisy


Vertebrae


Deer hoof print

Until next time...


Wednesday, April 17, 2024

And They Just Keep Coming

Spring is such a beautiful time of year. The grass is lush green, and new flowers are blooming every day. Soon enough, the weather will be hot, the ground scorched, and all but the heartiest flowers will be long gone. But for now, it's spring, and the yard is happy. So here are more pictures of the flowers that just keep coming. 

Dogwood. Dogwood is one of the last spring trees to bloom and my favorite.


Tulips. There are yellow ones in this bed, too,
but they always bloom later than the red ones.

The azaleas in the front are starting to bloom.


Another one of our large apple trees. It has lost several major limbs,
but last year, we finally got a decent amount of apples from it.


Lilac. Even though there are not as many blooms on the lilac bushes this spring
 because of pruning, I can smell them when I step out onto my back porch. 


Our little apple tree is also in full bloom now.


More blooms on the wallflower.


Bluebells


We have two crabapples in bloom, but both have been limbed up for easy mowing under them. This lone bloom on a lower limb was the only picture I could easily get.


Viburnum


And here's another picture of the phlox. Well, because...just look at it!

That's the flower parade for now. I'm sure I'll be back soon with more.

Until next time...

Monday, April 15, 2024

Blog files, Part 1

 I used to keep a folder of ideas that I might blog about. I last looked at it a few years ago, but it resurfaced as we were cleaning out our files. I found it interesting to see what I thought I might write about. You may or may not be interested, but here are some of the things I saved in case you are. :)


--Notes about differences in hot dog preferences in West Virginia. This came after visiting Hillybilly Hot Dogs in Lesage, WV. I learned a line running through West Virginia separates those who prefer slaw on their dogs and those who like chili. The details are more complex than that, and maybe I'll write about them someday.

--An article on George Orwells Six rules for choosing the right word. This was something from my mother, a writer in her later years. I have all but given up on proper writing because so many rules seem to be changing. As you have noticed, I have chosen a more conversational style than a more formal one. 

--Notes for the A-Z Challenge, 2018. In case you're not familiar with it, the A-Z Challenge is an annual challenge during April to post daily (no Sundays) for a different letter of the alphabet. I chose not to do it this year, but I always have mixed feelings. Coming up with a different post daily can be arduous, and I tire quickly of it. However, I have written some of my most interesting posts during these Aprils. Something about necessity is the mother of invention...

--Also, from 2018, an article about doing a podcast when I was toying with the idea of doing one. I'm still interested, but it would be hard to compete with the copious amounts of them available these days. In addition, I have no equipment to work with for any kind of decent sound quality. However, who knows? When I retire, maybe I'll look into it.


--An article from Mental Floss about why bird poop is white. I included some of this information in this post in 2018; B is for Bird.

--A letter to my mother telling her she had won a spot on a local TV game show. I think she won a TV, among other things. I was always fascinated with this story, but she didn't talk about it much. I still may do something on this.

--A copy of two utility bills from the 1940s that we found in my family's home just hours after one of the residents at my mother's nursing home told me that her uncle used to live in our house. The bills were in her uncle's name. It was one of several connections I made at the nursing home while visiting my mother. I wrote about it here.

--Playbills for Sweeney Todd, Fickle, Godspell, and The Magic Play. I never got around to writing about any outings to see these shows, but I did write about seeing Dial M for Murder

Tune in next time to see what else I pull out of the folder.

Friday, April 12, 2024

April Showers

 April Showers Bring May Flowers, 

or April Showers Bring April Flowers

Here are some photos of April flowers around the yard this week.

Grape hyacinth


The sunshine and warm temperatures brought out the bees.


While some daffodils have faded, others are in full bloom.


This is a first time bloom for these. I planted the bulbs from a friend several years ago and they have only shown anemic growth of the leaves. What a special treat to find these blooms.


Wallflower


Violets


The peas have finally come up. Time to put the garden fence up before the rabbits find them.


Our little apple tree is blooming.


As well as one the bigger apple trees.
However, we have never gotten more than an apple or two from it.


The cherry tree is blooming, but the wind is causing its blossoms to rain down.


Another daffodil.


The phlox is in full bloom.

Are April showers bringing April showers where you are?

Until next time...


Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Celestial Happenings

 Or The Eclipse Has Come and Gone but Is Not Forgotten


Image from James Webb Space Telescope

Most people are moving on after Monday's eclipse. They have posted their pictures on social media and told stories of the traffic they endured in the path of totality. I've moved on, sort of.

We viewed the actual eclipse in our backyard with the neighbors. We had an 87% blackout at our location and were lucky it was only partly cloudy. While the "lights" dimmed, the biggest change we noted was the marked drop in temperature. It was enough so that I retreated inside for a jacket. Ward and I were duly impressed and may travel to see the next one in a couple of years in Spain. But that's just a pipe dream for now.

However, the real excitement for the eclipse began a few months ago when I was told that I needed to do a program about the eclipse. I was putting one together before I remembered that we had previously had someone from NASA come to our library to do programs. She said yes, a date was settled on, and I relaxed a little. So much better to have an expert come than for me to educate myself and try to come up with something. We advertised through the normal channels, and I encouraged my friends and family to come. I was worried we would have a small turnout, which I didn't want for our speaker. 

And then it all began. On Thursday, the day of the program, the phone calls started coming in. Did we have eclipse glasses? Yes, but they are for the program. We'll pass out any leftovers after the program on a first-come, first-served basis. We were surprised when people started to line up 1 1/2 hours ahead of time. We opened the doors 15 minutes early, and the 70 chairs in the room were filled quickly. The doors closed, and others were told that they could go into the library for glasses. I stayed in the room to introduce the speaker and do crowd management. I was lucky. I got to hear an interesting program with an engaged audience.

Meanwhile, outside the program room, the line started to grow out of the lobby onto the sidewalk. That's the line Ward was in. Everyone seemed to need another pair of glasses for someone who couldn't make it. When no exceptions were made, people were upset. I was lucky that I didn't get the brunt of that. We had 253 pairs of glasses that were all passed out that night. 

There were phone calls and walk-ins asking for glasses the following days until everything came to a fevered pitch Monday morning before the eclipse. It was reminiscent of the toilet paper frenzy during COVID. The phone calls came in much faster than we could answer them. It was crazy, and I felt sorry for the people who had other library business. I was exhausted from the chaos and glad I got off just in time to go home to view the event.

We're a small local library with friendly customers, so these large numbers of inquiries were out of the ordinary for us, as were the short tempers. However, let me clarify that most people were polite, even when they were surprised that we didn't have any glasses for them. I don't know if they ever found any last-minute ones, as all the libraries, Walmart, and the drug stores were out. Hopefully, they found someone to share with as we did with our neighbors and Theo with his coworkers.

I am really happy that the program was a success, and I think I will remember the excitement at work around the eclipse more than I will the covering of the sun during the middle of the day. Maybe. The eclipse was really amazing.

Until next time...